COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first time in two years, the state of Ohio will no longer provide daily COVID updates as new infections continue their downward trend. The change, which goes into effect next week, means Ohio's COVID data will now be released on Thursdays only.
"Ohio has been one of only a handful of states still reporting COVID-19 data daily," Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said during a press conference Thursday morning. "Cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, vaccinations, which are all currently reported daily -- along with deaths which are reported twice weekly -- will be reported each Thursday on our dashboard at coronavirus.ohio.gov. Likewise, data from our long-term care facilities and our partner agencies will also move to weekly postings.”
Dr. Vanderhoff said one reason for this shift is to better align Ohio with the new benchmarks established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"As you may recall, CDC’s COVID-19 community levels, which were announced Feb. 25, moved away from relying on these daily case numbers as the sole measure of risk," he explained. "Now instead, the CDC is focusing on the severity of illness in the community as reflected by the percentage of hospital capacity that’s devoted to caring for COVID-19 patients as well as the number of new COVID patients admitted to hospitals over the past week.”
Another change: K-12 schools will no longer be required to report positive COVID-19 cases to their local health departments unless the school tests a student for COVID-19 and the result is positive. In addition, the COVID-19 School Reporting dashboard will be archived.
We streamed Dr. Vanderhoff's Thursday press conference, which you can watch in full below:
He also addressed that our experience with COVID-19 is now evolving from that of a pandemic to more of an endemic state.
“As the days and weeks pass, it becomes increasingly clear that not only are we leaving the omicron surge behind us but we’re entering a new phase of our experience with COVID-19," he said. "Case numbers and community transmission have continued to drop steadily as have hospitalizations.”
Ohio’s 21-day average for new COVID infections now stands at 1,112, according to data released at 2 p.m. Wednesday. That’s down from the 2,517 average reported two weeks ago. New COVID hospitalizations have also continued to dip with the 21-day average now at 91.
“At one point in January, Ohio had more than 2,200 cases per 100,000 residents," Dr. Vanderhoff said. "Now our state average stands at 78. That’s the lowest number we’ve seen since August. Similarly, while just two months ago our hospitalizations were topping 6,000 people, today fewer than 800 are hospitalized with the virus.”
Vaccination rates, however, haven’t moved much in recent weeks. Ohio is reporting that 57.37 percent of the state’s population is now considered fully vaccinated. For context, Ohio topped the 57 percent vaccination rate back in late February.
Dr. Vanderhoff also noted that all but 10 of Ohio's counties are now considered to have low or medium community levels based on the CDC's updated guidance.
But despite warmer days ahead, Dr. Vanderhoff warned that we shouldn't take our guard down.
“Many respiratory viruses, like COVID-19, do tend to quiet down as we head into the summer. While we’re all looking for brighter days ahead, it bears remembering that we’ve seen lulls with COVID-19 before," he said. "If you recall, in each of the past two years the late spring and early summer saw a decrease in cases that was followed by another surge. Now perhaps this time will prove different, but let’s not rely on that. This time, we have more tools than ever to get us prepared for whatever COVID-19 might have waiting for us around the corner.”
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Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous COVID article on March 9, 2022.